Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Swim Suit Ready Series: The Thigh Workout

     We're almost there! This is the 4th of 5 workouts and I pormise the last one will be up today! I'm gonna skip all the talking and get straight to The Thigh Workout! You'll need a set of weights and a step stool or aerobic step for this workout.
     I hate lunges as much as the next person but the work so there's really no way around it. Our first exercise is a lunge/squat combo. Starting on your right leg, you'll lunge forward, come back to center, then squat out towards the right, and come back to center. This is one rep. Remember to push through your heels on the squat and don't let your knee go past your toes on the lunge. Proper form will help you get the most benefit from the exercise as well as prevent injuries. You'll do 12 lunge/squat combos on the right and then 12 on the left. You may take a small stretching break and then go for it again. 12 on the right, 12 on the left.
     The next exercise is the deadlift. I love deadlifts because they strengthen the hamstrings (which can be hard to get at) and because they also stretch the hamstrings at the same time and a lot of us frequently forget to stretch our hamstrings. Also, a lot of knee problems cam be solved by making sure your hamstrings and your quadriceps are equally strengthened. A lot of people forget to strengthen both muscle groups and the result is knee pain. So, don't skip this one! To perform a straight-leg deadlift you'll stand with your feet about hip width apart. You'll need to be holding some type of weight, whether it's dumbbells, a barbell, or homemade weights, to make this exercise challenging. Standing tall, begin to bend forward, keeping your back flat and your legs straight. Let the weights hang down, don't force your arms to stay at your sides. Bend down as far as you can (you'll feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings and you should be able to go down a little further as your muscles warm up) and then raise your upper body back into an upright position, making sure you feel your hamstrings and your rear lifting you back up. This will strengthen your lower back as well, but you should be focusing on using your hamstrings and glutes to bring you back up into an upright position. You'll do this for 15 reps.
     Set your weights down and center yourself in front of your step stool (or aerobic step). Step up on just your right foot (let your left foot hang off the side of the step) and then step all the way back down. Do 15 on the right, and 15 on the left. Alternate this exercise with the deadlift for a total of 3 sets of each exercise.
     Remember the hip raises from this post? Well, we're bringing it back! This variation is actually not on the list from that post but it's a really simple variation. You're basically going to do a normal hip raise as described in this post, only you'll raise one leg off the floor so that you're doing a single-leg hip raise. After 12 resp on your right leg, do 12 on your left. Without lowering your hips, bring both feet back to the floor and maintain the raise while squeezing your glutes for 30 seconds. Lower back down and take a very short rest. Repeat for a total of 3 sets.

And the condensed version!
The Thigh Workout:
Lunge/Squat Combo - 12 reps on each leg
small stretching break
Repeat Lung/Squat Combo and small stretching break
Straight-Leg Deadlift - 15 reps
Step Ups - 15 reps per side
Repeat Straight-Leg Deadlift and Step Ups for a total of 3 sets each
Single-Leg Hip Raise - 12 reps on each side with a 30 second squeeze at the end
Repeat Single-Leg Hip Raise with squeeze for a total of 3 sets

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